Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Great Expectations

With a new year comes reflections on the past and dreams for the future. Many of you are hoping, wishing and planning to become new moms in the coming year. I wish you the very best and I offer you this list of things to consider before embarking on this magical journey. I'm not trying to discourage you, but rather to give you a sort of "caveat emptor (let the buyer beware)" to consider. Anyway, here goes:

1) You will never sleep again. Period. No, I mean you will sleep, but it will never be the sleep of the innocents - the sleep of the child that you just brought into your life. You will sleep in embarrassing places like carpool lanes and auditoriums during recitals and churches and doctors' offices with a lovely strand of drool adorning your shoulder. You will not sleep in your bed because, well babies don't sleep until they turn 13 and then they can't be awakened until they turn 16 and then they go out and don't return home and then you won't sleep because of the imaginary horror show starring them that your mind has created and can't erase.

2) Your thoughts and ideas will never again be thoughtfully considered. It starts when they're young: "Sweetie, I don't think that's a good idea to put the dog toy in your mouth," and continues: "Honey, I think you should start your project soon since it's due tomorrow" and "I don't think you should dye your hair that color the night before the dance." Your opinion will cease to matter, even if it is correct.

3) A child will make you look at your mate differently. Suddenly, you'll start digging through his parents' photo albums to find the recessive gene that made your children have freakish overnight growth spurts. You'll finally start listening when he tells stories of his youth knowing it wasn't just another lame high school story, it's a peak at your future.

4) Your current body? Gone. I don't care if you had six-pack abs going into this, you're not going to come out looking the same or better, despite the stories you've heard of Julia Roberts, Denise Richards and Cindy Crawford. Low-rise will now refer to your bustline. You'll finally get that thick hair you always wanted, but it won't be on your head. And, I'm sorry to tell you, but there isn't enough concealer in all of Sephora to hide the newly-earned bags under your eyes.

5) Start writing things Soon, you will be doing the not-so-subtle Momba dance which essentially consists of walking into rooms, putting your finger on your chin, and trying to remember why you walked in there. It's often accompanied by quiet, plaintive, "self-talking" to try and work through the mental lapse. Oh yes, and those names you worked so hard to assign to each child? Fuggedaboudit. In a short time, the names will be interchanged and eventually replaced with those of homely aunts that died long ago.

6) Your privacy and personal space are now things of the past. It starts immediately as you carry the 40 pound baby carrier into the bathroom during your 20-second shower and wash your hair to the wail of a colicky infant. Once they start walking, there are no locks to keep them out of the bathroom while you're in there, no matter what you're doing. Once they've reached pre-teens, and especially if they're female, you'll suddenly find all of your makeup, hygiene products and most personal belongings either unearthed, shifted or moved to their rooms.

7) There is no such thing as a worry-free day. If they're sleeping, you wonder if they're sleeping too long or not enough or whether they're ill. You will soon start following the path of every ambulance and praying that it is not towards your child's daycare or school. Really. You think about their grades, their friendships, their fitness, their mental health, their habits, their lack of self-discipline, their obsession with test scores and finally, will they ever come home again.

8) Your wallet is now the toll-booth for your family. Expect it to be aired out often and sometimes cold and empty. If you are not doling out cash, then you are charging, rearranging funds and, the daily exercise of parents everywhere - writing checks. You'll write checks for field trips, textbooks, school clothes, sporting equipment, sports tournaments, coaches' gifts, instrument rentals, dance shoes, prom dresses, car insurance and, maybe one day...a wedding more expensive than your first house. Your wallet and your bank account will see more action than, well than you ever will...again.

9) Clutter. It's your new best friend. It will surround you, embrace you, envelope you and drown you. At first it's pacifiers and baby bottle tops and tiny socks that never have mates. Then it evolves into Happy Meal toys and board game pieces and tiny, sharp Legos that cause great pain when stepped on. Eventually, it's hair bands, and bobby pins and CDs and cell phones and looseleaf paper scribbled with assignments. There is no way to clean it, control it or eliminate it. None whatsoever. Believe me. I've tried.

10) Your heart is forever altered. With the birth of your child, it unexpectedly swells to ten times its normal size. Don't worry, it's still healthy, but do expect it to be broken and mended time and time again. Having a child is the greatest love story you will ever read, see or experience. In one brief moment, you are so taken with this tiny person, that you can't imagine having been complete before they entered your life. Prepare to be loved so much that you're almost suffocated and hated so much that you can't bear it, all because you're doing your job. You will never be the same again.

So, you still think you're ready to become a parent? Then good luck and God Bless. I highly recommend it.


At 11:19 AM , Blogger utenzi said...

Happy New Year, Karen. I'm visiting from Michele's.

I don't have kids which probably means that I focus a lot more on the first 9 items you list than on the 10th. My parents and my brother keep telling me there's nothing better than having kids--but at the same time they're constantly telling horror stories about having kids. To say the least, I'm not sold on the idea!

But it's great that you find it all worth while. After all, we need to get another generation from somewhere. I'm glad that there's people like you, Karen, that are willing to do such harardous duty!

At 11:36 AM , Blogger The Mistress of the Dark said...

I'm definitely not ready to become a parent!

Here via Michele's, wishing you and your family a happy new year!

At 1:42 PM , Blogger Plumkrazzee said...

Karen, this needs to be published. You have climbed in every mommy's head, and written with point blank honesty exactly what it means to be a parent. Great post, I couldn't have said it any better!

michele sent me this time. =)

At 3:36 PM , Blogger WendyWings said...

Great post Karen, that clutter part is worse for me, I have teens AND a preschooler all at the same time. ACH
Michele sent me today :)

At 3:41 PM , Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

This is great Karen. So funny, so true.

I'm here from Michele's again.

At 5:19 PM , Blogger Theo said...

how right you are!!! wonderfully done. as the parent of two (16,18) i can testify!!

her via Michele, today.

At 5:22 PM , Blogger craziequeen said...


Soon, you will be doing the not-so-subtle Momba dance which essentially consists of walking into rooms, putting your finger on your chin, and trying to remember why you walked in there. It's often accompanied by quiet, plaintive, "self-talking" to try and work through the mental lapse.

I do that already :-( And I don't have kids - just the Prozac....

Here via Michele's :-)

At 5:30 PM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Well....I'm really glad I never did become a oarent...I couldn't have done it!!! Not for a minure!
I soooo admire all those people who have become caring, responsible parents cause I think it is rge hardest job in the whole world. Awesome, yes! Reward, yes! But everything you said made me go...Well, I was right for me!!!


Here from Michele today....!

At 5:34 PM , Anonymous Nikki-ann said...

I'm NEVER going to become a parent! Hehe.

Happy New Year!

At 6:23 PM , Blogger kenju said...

Belated happy anniversary!

Your post is so funny - but all too true.

The gnomes almost took over my house until I regained my sanity and put a moratorium on the purchase or gifts of any more. I have 25 or so. Someday I may photograph them and show you which ones I have. The first was Patrick, who came home with me from a Christmas craft show in 1978, I think. I fell in love with his face.

Happy New Year, Karen!

At 7:22 PM , Blogger Tammy said...

OMG...this is all soooo true! I'm now at the bobbie pin/hair band/cellphone phase...where every piece of makeup I own has disappeared, forcing me to buy all new. :)

Really excellent post...I may quote from it when I get home from Daytona, if that's ok with you (with proper credit, of course!).

At 8:35 PM , Anonymous Colleen said...

Wow. I mean, wow. I don't have children yet, but I think your post has given me a SLIGHT idea of what I will be in for...but I have a feeling that it's one of those things where you really have no idea what it's like to be a parent until it happens to you.

Good post.

At 9:53 PM , Blogger WendyWings said...

Michele sent me back, walks around room with finger on chin, um at least I think she did.

At 9:57 PM , Blogger Sandy said...

Sage advice.

Clearly it's a hard concept to wrap one's head around - how can all that mind-robbing, pocket-picking, sleep-depriving, world-on-it's-head, stuff also be the most amazing gift you'll ever be blessed with? It's not something I can explain, but I can attest that it's true. It's a certainly a gift I sometimes question whether I'm worthy enough for, but one (or actually I suppose I ought to say two) that I'm incredibly grateful for.

At 10:07 PM , Blogger Prego said...

Awesome. As a male parent, I think like eight or nine apply. I'm not worried about my figure.

I'm sharing this with my wife.


here via michele tonight. glad i came.

At 12:30 AM , Blogger David said...

i love my three kids- but you are mostly right.
after their arrival - everything changes - even for the dad.
but I love them more every day
and its been growing on me for 20 years
happy new year happy new you!

At 7:02 AM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Michele sent me back to you again...!

I know that everything you say is true...and it's wonderfully written, too and, I still think I did the right thing for me and for the world, too! (lol)

At 12:24 PM , Anonymous chris said...

karen, this is absolutely excellent, and how did you find enough clear-thinking time to set this down so eloquently? i so vividly remember *all* of these stages! currently, we have one in the lego phase, one in the make-up stage, one in cell phone land (and two out the door.) good work!

At 6:45 PM , Blogger Karen said...

Happy New Year! (I just had to visit another karen.)

Number 9 is a personal complaint of mine.

Oh, and I loved your anniversary post, too.

At 7:45 PM , Anonymous Last Girl On Earth said...

This post is better than birth control! lol Seriously. I TOTALLY respect moms. I don't know if I could do it! I have a hard enough times remembering to feed my cats! Michele sent me and I would LOVE to wish you a very happy 2006!

At 10:32 PM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Michele sent me back, once again! (lol) It's always good to visit you and reflect on what you have said, Karen!
I still say; "Ditto" to what I said matter how many times the lovely Michele sends me back...A CHILD is not going to be forthcoming from these loins! (lol)

At 7:23 AM , Blogger kenju said...

Karen, Michele sent me back to say Happy New Year (once again)!

At 12:52 PM , Blogger Blog This! said...

What a wonderful post. How true these changes on the journey into parenthood are, but, how wonderful a journey it can be.

Before I was a mom I thought I knew what love was...then I looked into my son's beautiful eyes after he was born and realized how wrong I was. Before I was a mom I thought I knew what heartbreak was then I sat helpless in the hospital and watched my son suffering and realized again I had been so wrong. Before I was a mom I thought I knew what was important in life and then I had a child and realized none of those things were important at all. Most importantly, now that Im a mom I understand why my mom did all the "crazy" things she did and I appreciate her so much more!

At 9:31 PM , Blogger angela marie said...

A friend of mine was just commenting about these very thoughts. I will have to refer her to this post. Beautiful and exactly what we all think.

At 10:08 PM , Blogger Carol (Smiles and Laughter) said...

Angela Marie's Friend here. She told me to come because of a post I wrote which ties in.

I LOVE the list. If only I had read it 13 months :)

Great blog, too!

At 12:03 PM , Anonymous Nancy said...

I have 3 kids and everything you said is SO TRUE! I dole out cash all the time, worry incessantly and never have privacy or time for myself.

Michele sent me! I'll be back.

At 3:22 PM , Anonymous Claire said...

I didn't want kids anyway but this list has convinced me...I don't think I'll be showing my sister though...I want her to have them soon so I can be 'Cool Aunt Claire'!!

At 5:54 AM , Blogger Steve B said...

"Hello, Michele sent me."

Loved the post. I'm a dad, but it goes the same most of the time.

At 10:32 PM , Blogger Carmi said...

If only I knew then what I know now...

...we would have gotten the puppy instead.


At 11:25 AM , Blogger Carmi said...

As I sit here working from home - bless the inventor of the wireless laptop - and watching our 5-year-old play quietly on the living room floor, I can't help but sigh happily as your words settle into my brain.

He's home sick today. And as upset as we are that he's under the weather, the selfish Dad in me is glad to have this quiet-together time with him. We don't get enough of it, and it's a wonderful payoff for everything parents go through.


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